“Bishkek? Where the heck is Bishkek? ” If you have to look it up on a map, don’t worry. I also couldn’t locate the capital of Kyrgyzstan precisely until I went there for the first time 2 years ago. And why did I go there? Well, long story short I had to pick up my ski gear. As you do.
The Joys of Gear Management
Not having a permanent home has its advantages. No big fixed costs. Less to worry about. But it’s not all roses and peaches. Being constantly on the road implies facing a wide range of climatic conditions. Add to this a passion for climbing, paragliding and backcountry skiing and you end up with a lot of luggage. Too much luggage.
The solution? Gear drops. Unsuspecting friends and family, generous friends of friends and hostel owners around the world end up providing a web of storage options. The backpack becomes lighter, at least temporarily. The result? Somewhat ridiculous.
I currently have some climbing gear stored in Germany, a rope and some clothes in Istanbul, a snorkeling mask in Tel Aviv, and a tarp tent in Oman. I believe I also have claims to half of a 100m static rope somewhere in France.
A gear drop is based on one assumption. That I will come back at the right time to pick up the left luggage. But life never ceases to mix things up. Plans change, priorities shift, and suddenly the logistics become exponentially more complicated.
So how did my ski equipment end up in Central Asia? Well, coming back from India last autumn the master plan was to do some ski mountaineering in the nearby Kazakh Tian Shan mountains in May. But an injury threw that idea out of the window.
Fortunately, it’s a fascinating part of the world. There is so much to explore, so adapting to the situation was far from difficult this time. It’s a somewhat random but still perfectly valid excuse to pay an old friend a visit in Dushanbe. And to visit a few ancient silk road cities of Uzbekistan along the way, hauling 40kg of winter gear through the summer heat. Ah, the fun!
There is also a lesson to be learned from this story. One of excessive attachment. I had a good run on those skis. Amazing winters when I was working in Switzerland, epic seasons in Kashmir and Georgia. But objectively I barely used them over the last 5 years. I did however drag them through half a dozen countries. I could probably leave them again in Dushanbe or Istanbul ready for the next hypothetical adventure. But this time I really hesitate.
What exactly am I clinging on to? Old memories full of laughters and powder? There are healthier and lighter ways to cherish those happy times. I keep saying that true freedom is found in the present, not in the past. Perhaps the time has finally come to let go. And hopefully find a new home for the skis, so that they can keep giving smiles.
Blast From The Past
There was also a surprise in store for me at the small hostel in Bishkek where I left the skis. I stayed there during my first trip to the “Stans” for a climbing expedition 2 years ago. The management has changed since, and the courtyard that used to be so pleasant is now littered with construction materials.
A few tents were rotting among the piles of debris. Nobody seemed to know how or when exactly they ended up there. But between some wooden planks I also found a portaledge, a tent that climbers use to sleep on the wall. It turns out that it was the one my climbing partner brought for the trip in 2017.
Memories filled my mind, some happy and some sad. An incredible adventure in the Pamirs with lots of ups and downs. It seems that sometimes we leave much more than just possessions behind. You never really know what you will find when you come back!